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American Overstaffed by 20,000, Including 8,000 Flight Attendants

American Airlines Leaving Hilton, Choice, Best Western

American Airlines is telling employees they have more people than needed as they plan to reduce in-cabin staff starting Oct, 1, 2020, and could begin furloughs on that date. In two letters, the carrier said they are seriously overstaffed, and asked them to consider leaves or early retirement.

American Airlines is telling employees they have 20,000 more people than they need for the Fall 2020 season, including 8,000 more flight attendants that necessary. The announcements came in two different letters to American employees sent over the past week.

COVID-19 Pandemic May Change American For the Foreseeable Future

According to CNBC, one letter was sent to all employees by airline CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom. In their note, they told workers their headcount was up to 30 percent higher than their anticipated need for the autumn, and urged them to consider the airline’s voluntary buyout or early retirement programs.

However, the leaders came short of announcing a round of layoffs starting Oct. 1, 2020. As a condition of their funding through the CARES Act, the airline cannot lay off any employees through Sept. 30, 2020.

“To be clear, this doesn’t mean 20,000 of our team members will be furloughed in October,” Parker and Isom wrote in the letter, according to CNBC. “It simply means we still have to work to do to right-size our team for the airline we operate.”

Flight Attendants Also Overstaffed as American Cuts Back

Of those 20,000 employees, 8,000 of them could come from the airline’s flight attendant corps. In a separate letter to flight attendants obtained by Reuters, vice president of flight services Jill Surdek warned changes were coming in the cabin as well.

The letter states starting Oct. 1, 2020, American will shift the cabin crews down to the minimum allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration, plus one person. As a result, furloughs could start immediately after the changes are official. Flight attendants were encouraged to take a buyout offered by the carrier.

“While we hope our customers continue returning to the skies in the coming months, the reality is that this pandemic has changed our business for years to come,” Surdek said in the letter, according to Reuters.

The letters come as American announced major changes to their international network through 2021. The carrier will drop three trans-Atlantic routes from their hubs at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), and instead turn their focus to partner hubs in Seattle and London.

“American has spent the past few years right-sizing its international network, discontinuing underperforming routes while adding leisure destinations like Dubrovnik and Prague,” Brian Znotins, vice president of network planning said in an American press release. “Now, as demand has significantly diminished due to COVID-19, we have to be nimble, creating the network that our customers desire.”

While the airline’s network will change significantly, their dedication to increasing flight load numbers won’t. The airline announced they would begin booking flights to capacity ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend.

Fonsini July 7, 2020

Hopefully they get rid of the angry grannies they use on the Atlantic routes. Please.

jjonathan July 4, 2020

Why anyone would fly either AMERICAN or UNITED is beyond me. They have brought some of the WORST changes to the US Airline industry possible over the last several years. Now THIS! Clearly this airline could care less about passenger safety and continues to stress the importance of the BOTTOM LINE for them!

MimiB22 July 3, 2020

My sister in law is a senior FA for American, flying mostly South American and Caribbean routes. She was laid off for a while, but just put back on. I have no idea how this will affect her, but it's not good. With Europe refusing entry to Americans, there's going to be little need for European routes. I suppose some will want to fly here for business, but will it be empty planes re-positioning going the other direction? What a mess. If only we'd had some actual leadership in DC during the early days of the pandemic, this health and economic disaster might have been mitigated as it was in other countries.

edgewood49 July 2, 2020

Sadly a harbinger of things to come. There was far too much capacity pre covid we should be seeing a much leaner airline industry in the future with newer generation planes. The pilot shortage is no more. I wonder now how much AA/ Parker is going to rely on the Alaska partnership? That should be interesting to see how it plays out I not sure if AA thought the partnership would become this important to them